Sunday, April 22, 2012

Monday of the Third Week of Easter

The next day, the crowd that remained across the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not gone along with his disciples in the boat, but only his disciples had left. Other boats came from Tiberias near the place where they had eaten the bread when the Lord gave thanks. When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. And when they found him across the sea they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you get here?" Jesus answered them and said, "Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal." So they said to him, "What can we do to accomplish the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent." (John 6: 22-29)

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, on the third day you rose again … may these words be enough to fill me with faith and hope today. You went about the world doing good, and so I pray to follow your example with a heart that is ready for what is good and right according to my Catholic faith.

Petition: Give me, O Lord, the grace to believe in you especially in those most difficult moments in my life in which I would rather turn to myself.

1. “You ate the loaves and were filled.” God versus the goods he bring to my life – have I learned to distinguish them in the order of what I seek in prayer? Do I seek God only for favors and benefits, or do I seek him for his own sake? Any material or spiritual good that is not God himself is but a creature and one that I sometimes permit myself almost imperceptibly to adore. Even my apostolic works can lead me away from God if I have not centered my heart in true devotion to him. God is first, absolutely so, and must come even before the work I do for him in my life.

2. “Do not work for food that perishes.” Seemingly good works done with the wrong intention can make an otherwise good work bad, or at least render it sterile for my spiritual life. Our hearts can drift into seeking out other purposes: our comfort, the appreciation of others, the desire to prove myself right or better than others. Such desires do not come from God but from our human weakness and egoism. Will such works last? Will they truly fill me? Will they endure into eternity? We must purify our hearts often, and let a more active prayer life give me the holy purposes and light from above that will reap an enduring spiritual fruit in my life.
St. Paul exhorts, “So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. … Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire and greed” (Colossians 3:1-5).

3. “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” The authentic works of God in our life, done by us, are works of supernatural faith, hope and love. These virtues work by grace, a divine gift that we must fight for and strengthen in prayer often. “If the Lord does not build the house in vain do the builders labor”(Psalm 127:1). It was by grace that Peter realized that Jesus was the Son of God, and it was also by grace that Peter’s nets were bursting with the catch of fish. Is my faith vibrant enough that Christ can build on me as he built the Church on Peter’s faith?

Dialogue with Christ: O Jesus, you give me bread from heaven to eat, and this bread fills my life with good things. May your holy Body and Blood always teach me to believe in you more wholeheartedly and center my desires completely on you, until I come to meet you face to face.

Resolution: In addition to reading the Gospel daily, I will begin to read a good book on the life of Christ, the lives of the saints, or other holy books to keep our focus always on Jesus Christ

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